SINGAPORE - When Myanmar-born Maung Thet Naing Win, 19, first told his parents in 2011 of his wish to pursue a career with the Singapore Armed Forces, they instinctively baulked at the idea.
Having grown up and lived under the harsh rule of the former Myanmar military junta, they were adamant that their son not become a military man.
But officer cadet (OCT) Maung, who moved to Singapore with his family when he was just a year old and became a citizen in 2008, persevered at convincing them.
On Monday, he became one of this year's eight recipients of the prestigious SAF Overseas Scholarship (Safos) in a ceremony at the Istana.
The scholarship is given to only a handful of top students each year. Notable past recipients include Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang, and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.
The other seven recipients this year are OCTs Dylan Lee Whee Sian; Li Yiming; Lim Yu Han; Jonathan Loh You Qing; Jeremy Ong Jun Kai; Foo Sze Wei; and Marcus Lee Jian Ying, son of Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu. All are aged 19.
OCT Maung, who studied at Hwa Chong Institution, recalled: "There was some discontentment. They (my parents) felt that they hadn't come all the way to Singapore for me to be in the military."